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Old 06-15-2009, 06:03 PM   #1
MiaShella
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Smile I'm a newbie, taking my 1st trip to WDW, and have a lot of questions, MORE ? added

DH, DD(11), and I are taking our first ever trip to WDW next month. We are driving from South Central Texas. We will arrive at WDW on July 12, but our tickets don't start until the 13th, that way we can rest up from the 2 day drive. We will be at WDW for 9 days, one day of that will be spent going to Cypress Gardens and Dinsaur World in Winter Haven. I bought the book The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2009, TONS OF INFO!!!!! I'm not sure if we want to get up so early on vacation to be at the opening of the parks, and then come back to the room in the late afternoon and rest, then go back in the evening, or if we should sleep in and then spend the rest of the whole day in the parks. DD and I both are people that if we don't get enough rest we are GROUCHY something terrible. I'm kind of leaning towards getting up early, and going back to the room in the afternoon when it's so hot. What are the pros and cons to going back to the room in the afternoon? What parks can you see it all in one day, and which parks need a couple of days? Which of the waterparks is the best, as of right now we plan to only go to one? For the parades and fireworks at each park, MK, EPCOT, AK, and DHS, where is the best place to see the shows, how early should you get a spot, and can you get great photos? I am a photo fanatic and will be taking TONS of photos, so I look at things in terms of can I not only see the shows, parades, fireworks, etc., but can I get great photos. I have already decided after looking at the not your average tourist thread, which fits me perfectly, that I will need a few more memory cards, the big ones, LOL. I have been inspired by the awesome photos on here and want to get some too. Is there anything else as a first-timer to the world that I should know? We are staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort, and of course we will have our own vehicle. Is it quicker to get to some of the parks driving ourselves rather than taking Disney Transportation? If we drive ourselves to a park will we have to pay for parking since we are staying at a Disney Resort? This is all I can think of right now, if anything else comes to mind, and I know it will, I will post here. TIA!!!!!

Michele

Last edited by MiaShella; 06-24-2009 at 11:58 AM. Reason: more questions added
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Old 06-15-2009, 06:15 PM   #2
MiaShella
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Smile

Already thought of something else. I have talked to a couple of people who have been to WDW in the past couple of months and they say the parks are pretty lenient about letting you bring in drinks and snacks, is this true? I bought a small insulated backpack that can hold six 20oz bottles of water plus a few small snacks. I would really like to do this since food is so expensive at theme parks. Also, we have tickets to Cirque Du Soleil on the 14, which park do you recommend that we go to since we would have to leave in the late afternoon and won't be going back to that evening?

Thanks!
Michele

EDIT: Thanks so much for all of the great info!!!!! DH and I have talked, and we will get up early on most of the mornings, then rest in the afternoon if we can, DD and I are pretty excited about the trip already, LOL. We also plan to use the Disney Transportation, everyone he has talked to that has driven there has suggested leaving the car at the resort. Can non-flash photos be taken at Cirque? My camera is a Canon Rebel XSi, will check the book for the memory card size limit, thanks for mentioning it! tawasdave I am PMing you, thank you! My DD who is 11 is tall enough for all of the rides and isn't afraid, though I think the Tower of Terror would get to her. What about getting character autographs? What characters are usually where? She really hasn't said much about getting autographs, but I want to be prepared before we go. We would really like to go to the T-Rex restaurant on our arrival day, should I make reservations now? I'm not sure what time we will be arriving, we're driving until DH can't drive anymore on the first day, then finishing up the trip on the second day. I can't think of anything else right now, but I will definately come back and post as soon as I do. You guys have been AWESOME with your info!!!

EDIT: Is there a list of characters available, and how do you find out where they are in the park? Can you get a list of showtimes before you get to WDW? Is there somewhere else to get free maps before you go to WDW? I tried gettting the ones on the WDW website and it printed really crappy, even when I retried it, and my ink is brand new. What are essentials to pack, that you wouldn't leave home without, my DD is 11. I also looked in my camera book and cannot find anything on max memory card size, it is a Canon Rebel XSi, does anyone know where I can find this info? Is there anything at WDW to do with the Narnia movies, my DD loves them. Ya'll have been so helpful to me, I really appreciate it. Thanks!

EDIT: OMG!!! What am I going to do?!?!?!? I gave DD the Unofficial Guide to look through all of the rides. i told her to read about each one and do a star system, 1 star maybe, 2 stars yes but there are others in front of it, 3 stars must do. She hasn't even made it through the MK section of rides yet and all of them are 3 stars except 2!!!!! How am I going to get her to understand that we cannot possibly do every ride at every park even though we are going to be there 9 days? I don't want her to be disappointed, but I do want her to see, do and ride as much as we can without being totally exhausted.

EDIT: I GOT RESERVATIONS FOR T-REX FOR OUR ARRIVAL NIGHT!!!!! DD is so excited to be going, she is a HUGE dinosaur fan, we thought it was a phase, but it's been going on since Pre-K and she will be in the 6th grade come fall. Maybe she will be a paleontologist one day as much as she loves dinosaurs and science.

EDIT 6/24: I see you can chek in online now, has anyone done this? Do you recommend it? How far in advance can you do it?
Characters in Flight at DD, is it worth the money? What time of day is the best to ride? I would like to get some photos while on this ride, what all can you see? Is it overcrowded on the ride or do you have comfortable breathing room? Can you take a tripod on, will a tripod even work on the ride?

Last edited by MiaShella; 06-24-2009 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 06-15-2009, 06:29 PM   #3
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First thing that comes to mind is how old are your kids?? That could change everything....

#1 - get up early. Just do it!! Go to the parks for RD and then see how the day goes. Especially in the summer.

#2 - None of the parks can be experienced completely in one day, however, after reading the UoG you should have an idea of your top 5 and bottom 5 - that is how we planned (What are the top 5 things you MUST do in each park and what are 5 things that you can miss).

#3. - For younger kids you may want to plan at least 2 days at MK. For older kids it may be DHS or Epcot.

#4. - Epcot is HUGE and a lot of walking so plan to be there at least twice if you want to really see it all.

#5. - I took 3500 photos my first trip. I had 16G of memory with me but did not use it all. I do not know how much memory your camera uses, but I took photos of everything. (I did not develope all of them and even deleted many once I got home, but that just is an example.)

#6. - We drove to the parks ourselves and did not use the busses.

#7. - We took in water and snacks to the parks.

I do not know what else to tell you off hand. But this is where I would start.

Amy
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:46 PM   #4
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Hello Fellow Central Texan!

The PP answered most of your questions but I'll add a bit more:

I Totally agree-get up early!! You will get so many of the rides done and not wait in many lines. You'll be glad you did, you'll be way more grumpy when you're hot and waiting in long lines!

As far as riding the bus or driving: well you might want to try it both ways and see what you like. MK is better to ride the bus IMO, they drop you at the MK instead of when you drive you park at TTC, shuttle to Monorail or ferry, then to MK, then all in reverse when you leave.

The other parks are very easy to drive to so driving may be the way to go there. When you just get there for the first time driving might seem a little intimidating.

As the PP mentioned, what parks in how many days depends on your children. MK and Epcot, definitely not 1 day parks. If you have boys they might really like DHS so you'll spend some time there in shows, etc. Are you going to the water parks? AK I'd say is definitely a 1 day park and doesn't require an afternoon break, it closes early. AK might be good on your Cirque day. Since you have the UOG, log onto their website, plug in the text from the page they ask you, and they'll have the best and worst parks per day. Really helps with crowd levels, especially at a busy time like July.

Yes, feel free to bring in water and snacks, we always do! Just no alcohol and no glass.

Have a great trip!
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Old 06-15-2009, 08:54 PM   #5
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ok here we go on the info express:

#1 my family is not morning clan either but it is definitely worth it to wake up early and get to the park for some rope drops. You don't have to do it EVERY day but do it a few times. You will get 5 rides in before lines really start to build. It is better to be a bit tired then hot and bored standing on the lines during the day. You can go back to the resort and really enjoy the pools at CBR. They are among the best.

#2 All the parks really will require multiple visits to see everything. Trust me you won't mind. Go to the extended magic hours a few nights and mornings at different parks, work your meals around restaurants in different parks and hop between them. I always take a pen with me and I cross out the rides we have been on as we do them. I know when we have gone on everything that way.

#3 Fireworks and parades are incredible. For Illuminations any spot along the water is "good". In front of Italy there are some nice spots and at the entrance to the World Show case there are good spots. The great spots by Italy are taken an hour before the show so if you want them plan accordingly. The fireworks show in Magic Kingdom is done at the castle so Main st is the best spot. I found the bridge going to Future Land to be a great spot that doesn't fill up until about 20 minutes before the show. You have to stand the whole time but the view is great. The parade routes are long so any spot at the rope is a good one. I have always had a nice spot along the ropes of the parade routes without trying. Just start looking about 10 minutes before the parade begins. You'll actually see the cast members setting up.
**I rented a boat to go out on Bay lake about 30 minutes before the show and it was incredible. The view was awesome. A Wishes Fireworks Cruise is as easy to arrange as any other recreation Advance Reservation. Call 407-WDW-PLAY (407-939-7529) as far out as 90 days in advance to book your own cruise.

#4 I never drive to WDW so I never have a car. I have family in Florida so I have driven to the parks, but I prefer the bus. No gas money, you get dropped off at the gate, no stress in driving into the parks and I never have to remember where the car is parked. The buses run often and are air conditioned nicely.

#5 You can bring in foods and drinks but no rolling coolers, no glass at all and no alcohol. Snacks are a good thing but splurge and eat alot of WDW food. It is great and is almost half the fun.

Take advantage of the fast passes. When you get into a portion of the park that has a fast pass ride get the fast pass and then go on the other rides. When your done you're ready for the fast pass ride. Ride the monorails they are a unique WDW experience. You can even ask a cast member to sit in the front with the driver.
On the first day you get there go to Downtown Disney. It is free but will get you into the park mode. T-Rex is a great place to eat there as well as Wolfgang Puks express and Rain Forest Cafe.

Any other questions feel free to ask
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Old 06-15-2009, 10:07 PM   #6
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I do not claim to be a Disney expert...but alot of people think I am..and I have been there 6 times in the last two years...twice now I have had newbies ask me to help them plan their Disney World trip...the second time I developed what I think are simple hints and plans for each park and general info hints...they are in a Word document..if you, or anyone else, would like to see them I would happy to email them to you...just PM me here with yoru email addy and I will send them...Good Luck and have fun at the Happiest Place On Earth!!!
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiaShella View Post
Already thought of something else. I have talked to a couple of people who have been to WDW in the past couple of months and they say the parks are pretty lenient about letting you bring in drinks and snacks, is this true? I bought a small insulated backpack that can hold six 20oz bottles of water plus a few small snacks. I would really like to do this since food is so expensive at theme parks. Also, we have tickets to Cirque Du Soleil on the 14, which park do you recommend that we go to since we would have to leave in the late afternoon and won't be going back to that evening?

Thanks!
Michele

EDIT: Thanks so much for all of the great info!!!!! DH and I have talked, and we will get up early on most of the mornings, then rest in the afternoon if we can, DD and I are pretty excited about the trip already, LOL. We also plan to use the Disney Transportation, everyone he has talked to that has driven there has suggested leaving the car at the resort. Can non-flash photos be taken at Cirque? My camera is a Canon Rebel XSi, will check the book for the memory card size limit, thanks for mentioning it! tawasdave I am PMing you, thank you! My DD who is 11 is tall enough for all of the rides and isn't afraid, though I think the Tower of Terror would get to her. What about getting character autographs? What characters are usually where? She really hasn't said much about getting autographs, but I want to be prepared before we go. We would really like to go to the T-Rex restaurant on our arrival day, should I make reservations now? I'm not sure what time we will be arriving, we're driving until DH can't drive anymore on the first day, then finishing up the trip on the second day. I can't think of anything else right now, but I will definately come back and post as soon as I do. You guys have been AWESOME with your info!!!

EDIT: Is there a list of characters available, and how do you find out where they are in the park? Can you get a list of showtimes before you get to WDW? Is there somewhere else to get free maps before you go to WDW? I tried gettting the ones on the WDW website and it printed really crappy, even when I retried it, and my ink is brand new. What are essentials to pack, that you wouldn't leave home without, my DD is 11. I also looked in my camera book and cannot find anything on max memory card size, it is a Canon Rebel XSi, does anyone know where I can find this info? Is there anything at WDW to do with the Narnia movies, my DD loves them. Ya'll have been so helpful to me, I really appreciate it. Thanks!
Steve Soares website is very good for schedules. Check it right before you leave as the schedules do change quite often.

You should be able to take non-flash photography anywhere unless they specifically prohibit you-as is the vase with special situations, shows, performers.

At DHS there is a Narnia wlk through exhibit. It is by TSM.

There is a character list somewhere but I've never found it to be quite accurate. Best bet: Get an autograph book for her and let the spontaneous moments happen!

Essentials: sunscreen, hat, wipees, anti-bac hand sanitizer, pens, autograph books, pin & lanyard (if you want to get into trading), money, tickets, ponchos, headache medicine, moleskin or bandaids for blisters. There's a list on here somewhere. Google or seach DIS for "Packing list for WDW". Likewise for Steve Soares.

Have a great trip! Don't obsess too much & just have a great time!
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Old 06-15-2009, 11:15 PM   #8
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Just a couple of suggestions.

I 8th the suggestion to get there early for all of the reasons covered by previous posters.

It sounds like a hassle, but if you want to eat at table service restaurants, then make reservations before you go.

Spend some time on http://allears.net/index.html , a very thorough, user-friendly site.

Don't forget to enjoy your vacation!
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:04 AM   #9
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I suggest turning in early at night and getting up early in the morning.

Leave the resort car ID sheet in the car, visible through the windshield. It also gives you free parking at the parks.

Even with a car, I think it is too much hassle to go back to the resort for a siesta. Instead I would find some reasonably quiet place in the park to relax if I needed to.

I would choose a different park from the one that opens early for Disney's resort guests (extra magic hour) unless I actually go that early. By the time the normal opening hour arrives, crowds have already built somewhat and tend to build larger on that day.

I suggest buying and bringing enough memory cards for your camera for the entire trip. Yes, burning onto CD is recommended -- as a backup -- if you wish. So you can keep the memory cards intact until you get home.

Caution: Memory cards bigger than your camera is rated for may give unpredictable results even though they seem to work. At any rate don't fill one up more than the amount a card sized for your camera can hold. You could run into such things as the 501'st picture wiping out the first picture, the 502'nd picture wiping out the second picture, etc.

Disney hints: http://www.cockam.com/disney.htm
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:16 AM   #10
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I agree with most everyone else, you have to find what is right for your family. For us, my kids were 4 and 6 and an afternoon break did not work. They never took naps and swimming was great but took a lot of energy. The breaks just seemed like a waste of time that we could have used to see more in the parks. We ended up just finding a quiet spot somewhere and having ice cream.

If you are on the DDP, the table service restaurants were a great time for the kids to sit and relax in air conditioning. That seemed to be all the rest my kids needed. Also, be sure to make your reservations before you go. There are many restaurants that will be full and you won't be able to walk up and get seating.

We drive down, so we do have a car but found that Disney transportation is easier and more relaxing especially in the evening when you are tired. Let someone else drive you around.

It's your vacation so remember to relax and have a magical time.
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:37 AM   #11
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Hi Fellow Texan! or should i say hi ya'll!

first off - decide what this vacation is to you. Is it a 'sleep in, relax, lay by the pool, people watch, walk slow, relax vacation? Or is it, a "i want to ride tower of terror 3x and see all the parades" vacation? If it is the latter- you better GET UP EARLY. There is nothing wrong with either approach. But just know, if you choose to sleep in, you might miss out on key attractions or if you do get to do them, you will be waiting in long lines. That is fine with many folks and they are okay with that. I am not. I paid a lot of money to be there, and I plan to ride everything I want without waiting in huge lines. It can be done if you are up early, use FP and other techniques.

you are there during the heat and crowds of the summer. You will miss out on many of the big attractions if you don't do them early. The lines for them will be 90 minutes plus later in the day and you will not be able to get a fastpass. So plan on having a day or two to sleep in if you want, but plan your other days to be there at rope drop and hit the big attractions with little lines. You get so much more done this way.

Believe me- I LOVE sleeping in. I am one of those people that could sleep all day, but at WDW, i feel like i get the most accomplished in those first few hours the park is open. Then we come back for a midday break- when it is the hottest part of the day, we are relaxing at the pool or in our nice A/C rooms taking a rest.

This way you get to ride all the big rides without waiting in hour plus lines, and you avoid the heat of the day. it is worth it for us. You just have to decide if sleeping in or hitting the big rides with less line is more important to you.

IF you do sleep in, make sure you hit the headliners first thing when you get there late morning and get fastpasses if they aren't gone already. fastpasses for Soarin and Toy Story Mania have a reputation of being all gone by lunchtime in high crowds.

On the car- we enjoy having a car- we usually rent one. I know the property inside and out and getting around is a breeze. Keep in mind- you will usually park in a large lot, have to take a tram to the front of the park (or walk far). At the MK- you have to park at the ticket and transportation center, then board either the monorail or boat to get to the MK. there is no parking at the MK itself, since Bay Lake sits in front of it. So it can be a 'trek' to park at TTc, then take monorail or boat. So sometimes, a bus is easier for MK, you get dropped off right at the gate. beware- DTD parking is a nightmare- you can be driving around for 30 minutes waiting for a spot to open. at the same time, bus transportation to DTD isn't great either.

So here's my final advice:
  1. get up early
  2. have a plan- discuss with you family what rides as a MUST for each of you- then map out a plan of when to hit each one on which day
  3. review park hours in advance- know which days are extra magic hours and whether you will take advantage of them or not. i highly recommend using the extra magic hour in the morning- we get SO Much done in that one hour.
  4. take lots of pictures- if you scrapbook- take pics of the signs, food etc.
  5. Take a break in the heat- save the air conditioned in door rides and shows for the hottest parts of the day
  6. take a break in the room!
  7. become a fastpass expert and USE THEM!!
  8. use photopass- you can also upload your own photos using photopass
  9. BREATHE, you are on vacation!
  10. have fun- don't stress and don't sweat the small stuff. it is july, just be prepared- it is going to be HOT and crowded. go in knowing this and just have a good time- try not to stress about it and remember you are on vacation making memories with your family!
have a great trip!!!!
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:07 AM   #12
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Welcome and congratulations from a fellow Texan (we are from San Antonio)

I agree with going early and taking an afternoon break each day. You win both ways because you get alot of attractions in before the crowd hits and you're in the AC in the heat of the day. I can't imagine staying at the parks all day without a break especially with you being there 9 days.

Also, a tip I have for when you are going is to hit a Walmart and pick up some mister fans. It really helps with the heat.

Have a great trip
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:11 AM   #13
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DH and I had been to WDW several times but it was our first family trip.

We did not make Rope Drop on any day of our trip - but we DID get there early - usually within 1/2 hour of park opening. We ordered the park maps online and studied them before we got to the parks so we didn't need to spend time getting the maps at the parks nor orienting ourselves when we got there.

By following the touring plan and suggested park days we were able to hit most of the items on our to-do list, especially at MK. We did allow 2 days for MK and 1 1/2 for Epcot. One item that is not on the touring plans that I HIGHLY recommend - the Kim Possible adventures. Try them out when you are in the WS.

When we went it was HOT - 95 every day even tho it was early May. Because of the heat we found going back to the room, while a pain, to be a blessing. By 2:00 we were dying in the heat. A couple of hours at the pool and in the room were a relief. We would then head back to the park for dinner and a few more rides. We stayed at the parks until closing - except we skipped Illuminations and Wishes (sacreligious I know but DH doesn't like fireworks) and left just as they were starting so we could get out just ahead of the crowds - this way our waits to get back to the room were minimal. The only day we did not follow this plan was when we were at AK and we did stop at 1:00 and have ice-cream and to sit in the shade, but it just wasn't the same as getting away from all that asphalt. Even with the rest and ice-cream we left AK by 4:00 simply because we were completely overwhelmed with heat. (but we live where average temps rarely exceed 90 even in July).

Autographs- bought the books and ended up selling them on e-bay unused because my kids just didn't want to stand in line to get the autographs. (BTW they sold for more than they cost so don't look to save money buying them on e-bay .) My DSs were happy to meet the characters when they came across them and posed for some nice pictures but stand in line - couldn't be bothered. They wanted to ride the rides! Everyone's experience is different, so ask you daughter what she'd rather do stand in line to meet characters to get autographs and photos or stand in line for rides. If your DD does decide she wants to get autographs you can pick up the book at a bunch of different locations in the parks or at the resort for about the same as you'd pay on e-bay. If you want one for putting photos in as well then I'd go with one from e-bay.

One other suggestion about the camera that someone gave here on the DIS that I thought was a great idea. Write your name, address and phone numbers on an 8x11 piece of paper - make it so they fill the whole page. Include your cell numbers and the hotel you are staying at and the dates of your stay. Photograph this page so the photo is both in the camera's internal memory and on all memory cards. That way if you loose any or all of them you have a chance of getting your camera back.

Also scope out the photopass photographers - you may or may not buy any of the photos or the CD but the photographers are located in the best spots for lining up your subject with the best/most memorable backgrounds (castle, hat, SE, Tree of Life, etc). We got a great photo on the streets of america and another with EE in the background. I never would have thought to take a picture in those spots but they came out awesome. They will also snap a photo with your camera if you ask them.

We drove also and I have to say found driving to MK and taking the bus to be equal pains in the ******* but found the bus transport to AK to be very easy to deal with. We stayed at YC so walked to EP and took the boat to DHS so can't comment on driving here. I was glad to have the car for getting back and forth to resort dinner ADRs though. It only took us 10 minutes to get to the WL by car but I imagine getting there by WDW transportation would have taken much, much longer.
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Last edited by 3boymthr; 06-16-2009 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 06-17-2009, 11:46 AM   #14
MiaShella
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More questions added in the second post! Thanks!!!

Michele
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:36 AM   #15
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You're going to have a fantastic time!!!!!

If you only plan to do a water park one day, then just buy a day pass, it's cheaper that way.

Check out menus on allearsnet.com and figure out some TS meals you want to eat and make adrs asap.Our familly enjoyjed TS lunches-great break/rest from the crowds/park.

You're there 9 days, you'll be able to see almost everything you want to see-especially all the rides at MK.

You don't have to do everyday at RD, but definently plan several days at RD. YOu'll be shocked by how many rides you can do before the lines start building. my dh is totally not a morning person at all and he whined and complained about getting up early but he was so glad he did!!!

Make a super early breakfast ADR at MK, that way you can get into the park before it opens and get a picture in front of the castle with no one else in it.

Don't underestimate transportation time, especially if you're taking a mid-day break. You ahve to walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus (up to 20min), ride the bus, walk to the entrance of the park. Do it again to return to your resort. And then do it all again to go back to a park at night. It's a lot of time!

Mid-day breaks weren't great for us, but my kids are smaller. Ifound it was just too much wasted time traveling. Our most successful days were when we got to the park at RD and stayed until about 3 or 4, went back to resort to enjoy the pool and then had dinner and bedtime at normal time for them. Of course, you miss stuff that way. But at least there are tons of things we wnat to see on our next trip that we missed.


HAVE FUN!!!!!!
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